Confidence was high in the Ponsonby camp going into the latest round of the Alan McEvoy qualifying competition. They had pulled off a last gasp win the previous week against Pakuranga, but this week they were facing a Marist side that were smarting after receiving an old fashion lesson In rugby in that past round by Eden.
Hopes of an open running and entertaining match looked to be dashed when the day dawned with torrential rain and blustery gales. Fortunately the rain did subside before the first whistle, so spectators did witness a reasonable clash in which Ponsonby were the victors by 29-3.
Ponsonby’s squad this week featured a number of changes from the previous round. Nepia Fox-Matamua, McCarthy Cocker-Filikitonga and Willie Uili started in the pack, whilst the backline included promising Japanese halfback Tatsuya Hamano, Sione Fakapelea and Blues squad member Jordan Trainor, who had his first start of the season.
Both sides started strongly, and showed a willingness to run. Defensively each side was up to the task. It was Ponsonby that were first on the board with a penalty goal from a handy position from the boot of Wiseguy Faiane.
Much of the first spell was a dour affair with neither side able to gain any significant ascendancy. It was a case where possession changed hands on a regular basis and scoring opportunities were missed.
Marist had an opportunity late in the half to draw even on the scoreboard with a long range penalty goal, but the kick fell just short. William Talataina-Mu cleared from beneath the Ponsonby posts and from this point the blue and blacks launched an assault on the Marist territory. After several minutes on attack Ponsonby eventually crossed the goal line with McCarthy Cocker-Filikitonga scoring beneath the posts, which Faiane converted.
With the breeze at their backs Ponsonby started the second half positively and were able to string several good phases together. It wasn’t long before Jordan Trainor found a gap in the Marist defence and he strolled over the line untouched.
Marist slotted a handy penalty goal in the 54th minute of the match, their only points of the game.
Ponsonby’s third try of the game was scored by number eight Presley Tufuga. The blue and blacks had spent several minutes on attack, but were unable to penetrate the solid Marist defence. However they persisted and the points came.
In the final ten minutes of the fixture Ponsonby searched desperately for their fourth, and bonus point, try. Again the Marist defence was tough to breach. But the try came in the 76th minute when a scything Tufuga run, and excellent support from William Talataina-Mu, was finished off by Freedom Vaha’akolo.
Next week Ponsonby travel across town to Colin Maiden Park to face an old foe, University. In regular competition matches Ponsonby have been somewhat unlucky at Colin Maiden Park in recent seasons, but will be buoyed by their 27-20 semi-final win there a few weeks back in the Waka Nathan Challenge Cup. Last week University eventually swept Otahuhu aside by 52-5, but were made to work hard in the second half given the 5-5 score at the break.
Tries: McCarthy Cocker-Filikitonga, Presley Tufuga, Jordan Trainor and Freedom Vaha’akolo
Con: Wiseguy Faiane 3
Pen: Wiseguy Faiane
1 Conner Halangahu; 2 Willie Uili; 3 Herman Huch; 4 Motieva Ngauamo; 5 McCarthy Cocker-Filikitonga; 6 Nepia Fox-Matamua; 7 Aleks Dabek; 8 Presley Tufuga; 9 Tatsuya Hamano; 20 Wiseguy Faiane; 11 Morrison Siliko; 12 William Talataina-Mu; 13 Sione Fakapelea; 14 Freedom Vaha’akolo; 15 Jordan Trainor; 16 Steven Savali; 17 Brice Schilling; 18 Tipolo Jr Faalogo; 19 Matt Foote; 20 McCarthy Cocker-Filikitonga; 10 Campbell Woodmass; 211 Aleni Ropati; 22 Cole Garrick;